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Sebastian Vettel Drives First Aston Martin GP Racer

Sebastian Vettel has taken to the wheel of the first Aston Martin GP racer. A century on from its racing debut, Aston Martin’s original Grand Prix car roared back to the French Grand Prix, for a thrilling celebratory lap with the multiple F1 championship driver at the wheel.

Vettel Drives First Aston Martin GP Racer

This weekend’s race sees Aston Martin mark the centenary of its maiden GP at the 1922 French Grand Prix, with no current Formula One manufacturer enjoying such an early history of top-flight competition.

Ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix, four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel had the chance to pilot TT1 – affectionately nicknamed ‘Green Pea’ – around Circuit Paul Ricard, 100 years on from the storied car taking to the road circuit of Strasbourg for a 60-lap, 800 km race as one of two Aston Martin entries.

The cars were built by founder Lionel Martin following a commission by wealthy young motor racing driver and pioneer Count Louis Zborowski, who invested £10,000 in their construction and the development of an entirely new 16-valve twin overhead cam four-cylinder race engine. TT1 and TT2 were originally intended for the 1922 Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) event, but instead, a delay saw them make the marque’s international racing debut at the French Grand Prix on the 15 July 1922, with Zborowski piloting TT1. He later went on to design ‘Chitty Bang Bang’ the car which inspired the book and film Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

Sebastian Vettel, one of Aston Martin’s 2022  F1 drivers, said: “It was an incredible honour to drive this car, exactly 100 years on from it last taking to the starting line at the French Grand Prix.

Vettel Drives First 1922 Aston Martin GP Racer

“Green Pea holds a very special place in Aston Martin’s heritage, and you can almost feel that century of history beneath your fingertips when at the wheel.

“The racing spirit and will to win is something that defines Aston Martin, and it’s fantastic to celebrate it this weekend as we bring Green Pea and our heritage in motorsport together with the cutting-edge technology and performance of today’s AMR22 car.”

Vettel Drives First 1922 Aston Martin GP Racer

This weekend, the Aston Martin F1 Team will race with the original Aston Martin badge from 1913 on the nose of its cars, mirroring the one fitted to Green Pea. 

The first Aston Martin Grand Prix car, featuring a 1486cc engine unit, was good for around 55bhp at 4200 rpm. The car – built with a body conforming to the voiturette style – weighed in at 750kg (1653lb), 45kg (99lb) lighter than today’s AMR22 challenger. It had a top speed of 85mph and carried two seats, one off-set, as per the Grand Prix regulations of the time, to accommodate the riding mechanic who was an essential member of the team not least because of his job to pressurise the fuel tank via a hand pump.

Vettel Drives First 1922 Aston Martin GP Racer

The experience was sufficiently exhilarating for the fledgling team, based at Abingdon Road, Kensington, to continue their Grand Prix adventure and blaze a trail for Aston Martin’s future success in international motor racing.

 

 

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